Session 121 – Is homework a vital learning tool or an outdated educational throwback?

Homeworkfrustration

Session Title: Is homework a vital learning tool or an outdated educational throwback?
Date: Thursday 25th October 2012

Summary of the Session:
Homework has always been a point of conjecture for many educators. There is a whole spectrum of ideas and philosophies when it comes to homework and as usually the participants of UKedchat represented the myriad of views. From abolishing homework altogether to making it the central part of the learning journey.

The discussion began with the broad question ‘Do you set homework and why?’ The vast majority of respondents did indeed use homework, but as the discussion continued it became clear that the word ‘set’ homework may not be the correct one. Many tweeps commented on their personal purpose for using homework as a learning opportunity. Many people spoke about extending the learning that occurs in class and to consolidate their understanding. Some UKedchatters spoke about homework being a necessary evil as it is not possible to deliver the whole curriculum within school hours. Some said that homework provides a good opportunity to assess what the children has learnt in class and to use and apply this knowledge. Many worried that children are being asked to complete formal written homework at an increasingly early age which switches them off forever.

An interest discussion ensured about homework building a link between home and school, but many pointed out that homework is often the root of many arguments between parents and children. Several participants noted that homework is really there to meet parental expectations and some felt that it actually does little for the educational attainment of the students.

A number of interesting alternative ways to give homework were discussed. Two notable examples were @thelazyteacher method of ‘tapas’ homework and @tomhenzley’s homework grids. Both give the children a choice in what task they chose to complete. Some people also mentioned that they often feel like they give homework weekly for the sake of it, and perhaps a system of using homework only when it was needed would be a better approach for both teachers and learners.

A few members of the discussion suggested that longer school hours may be a good alternative instead of children working at home. Presumably, brave individuals are still running for their lives from an enraged ukedchat community! But it was also suggested that students should use their ‘free’ time during the school day more effectively to complete more self-directed tasks.

The discussion turned to the role of parents in homework and how much was too much help. @dughall suggested a system know as PAL (Parent assisted learning) where parents are expected to help their children. Many chatters pointed at that not all children are given the same levels of support at home and tweeps spoke at length about the homework deprivation and what can be done to help those children without a conducive learning environment at home. Tweeps continued by pointing out that children often have full timetables outside of school with many attending clubs and other activities. Many highlighted that homework can be an additional burden on over-stretched teachers with extra planning and marking.

Trying to summarise this dipolar issue is tricky, but I think that most would agree that if children are asked to work at home, the activity should be useful and relevant to their school work, allows the children to follow their interests and passions to instil a love of learning and it should indulge their curiosity and use their creativity to push their learning forward. Fire up your class with stimulating collaborative projects which will be enjoyed by both child and parent. Let ‘will will this light them up?’ be our mantra.

Notable tweets from the session

Jivespin: The purpose of homework for me is to extend learning opportunities, practice skills and to guide students in reading more widely #ukedchat

jamesdhobson: I would love to dispense with homework. But there is too much to do. You need to change what schools  do first  #ukedchat

MrsFolkerCES: #ukedchat open-ended to give pupils opps to share their learning however they want. Embed good habits for life – learning happens after 3.20!

PhilippaIsom: #ukedchat we do not grade homework for reporting purposes, only effort. Students have vast differences in access to resources at home

davidhunter: #ukedchat that Sutton trust report found homework to have minimal impact on learning. Have to say it really depends on what is set.

Emmk30: #ukedchat if homework is set, it should be treated as being as important as the lesson.

teacherofy5: #ukedchat if chn understand the importance of h/work, they do it – they benefit from it at the end, consistency necessary

aangeli: If homework is personalised and differentiated then appropriate otherwise – no homework! Prefer 1 hr extra after sch #ukedchat

GoldfishBowl_MM: Too many of my students do homework just to avoid detention and do the minimum required. We need to give them a better motivation. #ukedchat

Kezmerrelda: #ukedchat some children actually like hwk! keep getting emails off yr 2 class about what found out about space! Hav lots visual stuff on vle

mattlovegrove: #ukedchat I am a big supporter of homework. Teaches responsibility and organisation skills. Also helps parents link to school learning

mrpeel: #ukedchat unfinished hwk generates friction and hostility.  Many chn do not have suitable home environment to undertake hwk – move into school

jamesealmond: Use @100word challenge for homework which a lot of ch love. But same old story- those that do hw do it those that don’t don’t #ukedchat

DeputyMitchell: Didn’t set one piece of homework all year yet pupils worked producing 70,000 words+ on their blogs from home #ukedchat Where there’s a will

jackieschneider: #ukedchat – as a parent I have loathed the tyranny of badly set poorly marked HW which is cynical cover your back stuff

Tweet of the Week
urban_teacher: Parental Involvement + Tailored Homework = Student Progression #ukedchat

About your Host
Martin Burrett (@ICTmagic) is a Year 5/6 teacher at Mersea Island School in Essex and is an advocate for using digital technology to improve teaching and learning in schools. He founded the ICTmagic educational resource website and is a co-administrator for UKedchat.

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